If you are frustrated searching job boards, sending resumes into black holes, and not getting responses from prospective employees, what I call “The Alumni Networking Solution” will help you.
Research from Jobvite found that “Employees hired through referral are hired 55% faster than those who come from a career site.”
I have personally used The Alumni Networking Solution to find leads and get interviews that lead to job offers.
What exactly is The Alumni Networking Solution?
The Alumni Networking Solution is a 5-step networking tool designed to introduce yourself to college alumni and develop relationships that lead to referrals. This means actually getting to know the person- and asking for his or her advice, instead of a job like everyone else. I used these five simple steps – in about 10 minutes per connection – to find a job in the worst job market in the last eighty years.
This is one of my favorite networking tips for college students!
Below are just two of the many responses I received from my original LinkedIn message.
Step 1: Update Your Career Materials
Make sure you have your resume and LinkedIn profile updated. Those are the two major career materials your alumni are going to want to see before they agree help you. The top three issues you want to avoid are:
- An unprofessional LinkedIn profile picture: This will hurt your chances of having people even view your Linked profile
- Having the usual generic headline: Every college grad has “Recent Major Looking For Entry Level Position”
- A resume that has typos: Typos make you look sloppy and unpolished
If you need further guidance, read these networking event tips.
Step 2: Join Your Alumni Group on LinkedIn
Alumni are always willing to lend a helping because you have a lot in common: you stayed in the same dorms, had the same professors, and drank at the same local bar. Most importantly they remember how hard it was to get their career started.
- Change the search setting found in the upper right hand corner of your home page to Groups
- Enter the name of the college you attended and your alumni group should show up in the search results
- Select the group
- Click “Join Group”
An email confirmation will be sent to you confirming your membership to the group; once you receive that message you will be ready to network!
Step 3: Create an Introduction Letter
An engaging cover letter is your first – and perhaps only – first impression! For consistency and simplicity reasons, consider customizing the message below:
Subject: Hello! A quick question from fellow alumni
I graduated from in with a degree in . I see that you work in and was wondering if you would be willing chat on the phone, at your convenience of course.
As I am seeking an entry level opportunity at a dynamic organization, I would love to hear more about what you do and any insights or advice you might have on breaking into the industry.
Your help would be extremely appreciated!
Thank you in advance for your time,
Important: the purpose of this letter is NOT to ask for a job. “Hi! It’s nice to meet you. Want to hire me?” is not effective networking. Be discrete. Be patient!
Step 4: Send!
After carefully customizing, send you pitch email to members in your alumni group who are working in an industry of interest to you.
- In the LinkedIn group, click the members tab
- Find alumni who work in the industry in which you want to get a job as well as alumni in the city where you would like to work
- When you find a good fit, send
It’s important to be flexible and consider reaching out to alumni who work for companies you would like to work at. Even if they don’t work in the same field that you are looking to get into they will probably know someone at the company they can introduce you to.
Step 5: Set up Informational Interviews
As replies begin to roll in, set up phone meetings, Skype calls and face-to-face meetings. These informational interviews will enable you to connect with the alumni – and allow you to demonstrate your passion to an influencer in your industry of choice. Remember to listen carefully and take notes for future reference and don’t forget to send a professional thank you note.
Through the relationships you develop, you should soon start receiving leads for open positions… many of which aren’t even advertised!
Remember that networking IS NOT asking someone for a job. Networking is about building your professional network that could lead to referrals.
I want you to do three simple things.
- Use the LinkedIn Alumni Solution and send 5-10 customized LinkedIn message to your alumni. I guarantee you at least 2-3 people will respond willing to help you with your job search.
- Leave any questions below in the comments section. I am sure other people will benefit from the answers.
- Share this with any friends/young professionals you know who are struggling to find a job or internship. It will take you less then a minute and could really make a difference to their career success.
Author Name: John Muscarello
About the Author: John Muscarello is the Founder and CEO of Start Networking Today. John focuses on helping ambitious 20 and 30 year olds how to find jobs and advance their careers using networking. He was named one of the top 100 Twitter Accounts Job Seekers Must Follow and his website was named one of the Top 50 Blogs For Young Careerists. Please feel free to visit Start Networking Today or follow John on Twitter @Jmmuscarello.